Mercedes pay tribute to Lauda on first anniversary of his death

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Mercedes have paid tribute to their relationship with three-time Formula 1 champion Niki Lauda on the first anniversary of his death.

Wednesday marked one year since the Austrian passed away following a lengthy illness, bringing to an end the life of one of motorsport's most resilient and inspirational figures.

Lauda's final seven years saw him as a figurehead for the Mercedes team in the role of non-executive chairman, and his impact was felt none more so by current team boss Toto Wolff. 

"What did I learn from Niki? So much. From a personal standpoint, it is to never give up. Don’t ask for understanding, just get things done," the Austrian said of his fellow countryman.

"Niki never complained. He was somebody that would be in pain and go through struggle, but he just sorted it out. The adversity that was thrown at him and the way that he coped with it is something that I really admired.

"Through the years our relationship developed, and I think we learned a lot from each other because we were so different, but his input and him being a sparring partner, a sounding board, and most important a friend that would be with me, in a hostile environment that is something I tremendously miss.

"But probably the most impressive personality trait was to never complain. Niki had so much adversity to overcome but you never heard one word of complaining and that is something that was truly admirable," he added.

"Niki inspired me with his personality, with his resilient approach to things and also the way he was able to reinvent himself. He became a racing driver, created an airline, back to racing driver back to an airline and then heading the supervisory board of Mercedes Grand Prix – that is an amazing career.

"I wish he would be around because we all miss him so much as a friend. I lost my business partner, my travel companion, my sounding board, my coach and we all in the team miss him tremendously."

One of Lauda's biggest achievements at Mercedes was successfully convincing Lewis Hamilton to join from McLaren in 2013, with the Briton going on to win five F1 titles in seven years.

“Definitely to have the support of someone like Niki demands a huge amount of respect and shows that there is a mutual respect there because obviously I thought perhaps he didn’t necessarily value me as a driver but he did," he said.

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“When we sat together in Singapore [in 2012], he came to my room and we had a good conversation and I think that was the time when Niki was like: Oh my god, you are just like me in so many ways.

“We have actually a lot more in common than I anticipated and assumed. Probably he would have thought to himself: ‘Actually, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people necessarily’ From then on, we had a really great relationship.

“He was always thinking about how we can improve. The greatest sign from Niki was if you did the job, he would take off his hat. That was for him saying: ‘Well done!’

“We would talk often after the races and he would be asking things like: ‘Hey, Lewis, what do you need to be better? What do you need?’ He was always chasing. If I was to learn anything from him it would be that.

“As a driver and within a team, you naturally have to work together but you have to lead it. You have to lead the team, you have to ask the questions, you have to really dig deep and push everybody.

“Niki convinced me to come to a team that at the time had a lot of success to come,” he added. “I am grateful for the opportunity and forever love Niki. I know he is with us every race in spirit.”